Be Ready Before

In my garden are planted green beans and cucumbers and tomatoes. This is not the first year I have grown a garden. Nor is it the first time I have planted those three vegetables.

It would be safe to say those three are my favorite summer treats, fresh-picked from my garden plants.

Be Ready Before : PDF of this post

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Tomatoes have some interesting characteristics. If left to themselves, they like to play in the dirt. The branches are not sturdy enough to hold themselves upright. As they grow longer and larger, they droop until they are lying on the ground.

On the ground they are tempting food for bugs, slugs, diseases, and rot. On the ground is not the best place for a tomato to raise its young.

Tomatoes are suckers for suckers. If left to themselves, a sucker branch will grow vigorously from each branch-pit. These suckers suck nutrients from the main stem, eventually weakening the whole plant.

Suckers will masquerade as worthy arms of the mother plant, but they secretly use up the plant energy, and the tomatoes are all smaller and weaker when they mature.

I know what the life-cycle of the tomato plant will be before I put it in my garden. I know about the weakness in the limbs. I know about the disadvantages of the suckers. Before the problems show up, I know they will come.

What to do?

Take care of the problem before it shows up.

All garden stores have tomato cages. I bought some a few years ago. One is put in place as soon as I plant the baby.

Also, I pinch off each sucker before it gets even noticeable to the untrained eye. With my thumb and finger as close to the stem as possible, my thumbnail removes the offending growth.

Neither problem has showed up yet.

But, the solutions are already applied.

If I carelessly wait until the problems are obvious, branches will get broken as I try to pull and push them into the confines of the cage. Suckers will have already weakened the mother plant and the fruit will be stunted.

Prepare for the realization of the promise before the gift is evident.

I purchased a single 4.5 inch pot of cucumber plants. Yes, plants. The chosen one had four plants growing closely together in the center of the pot.

In past years I have carefully separated such clusters aand planted each one at the proper distance from its neighbor.

This year I left them as they were and planted the quads in one nest of dirt.

As soon as they were nestled into their new home, I fenced them in using a tomato cage. Four plants, four legs on the cage. The only problem was that the cuke vines will grow longer than the cage is tall.

Eventually, the plants will need additional support. So, this morning I cut several long bamboo stalks and placed them around the outside of the cage.

The plants are only now reaching to the lowest rung of the cage. No vertical growth problem exists.

The solution is in place before the problem exists.

I have done the same with the green bean plants. An 8-foot tee-pee is ready for the growth that will happen.

In each of these situations, the promise is present: growth beyond what is currently seen.

Life is mirrored in the garden experiences.

We can easily compare habits to the planting of seeds and their growth into automatic responses in life.

Habits are planted in our lives through repetition of actions and responses to life events.

If you don’t want them to grow and mature into problems, remove them while they are young.

If it is a desirable habit, shelter it and provide a safe place for it to mature and produce good fruit.

We need habits.

Habits control our lives.

Bad habits, habits that hinder or hurt us, should be weeded out of our lives.

Yes, bad habits can be changed. Can be removed. Can be replaced with good habits.

And we can place protections around ourselves to promote healthy growth. I recently wrote about Core Values. Personal Core Values work as fences or cages allowing us to grow, but within the boundaries of the values system in place in our lives.

In your personal and professional life as you work toward goals and achievements, put in place the performance and behaviors that are promised in what you are planting.

Core Values

Excellence, consistency, patience, leadership, teamwork, joy, integrity, innovation.

These characteristics, these values, are the supports that will keep your work from problems, will keep you flourishing and producing quality work-products (fruit).

Work to develop the solutions – the safeguards – before the problems show up.

When you truly believe you will receive it, you act as if you already have it.

Happy Gardening!

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Why You Need Silence

I had decisions to make. These were not easy decisions, like whether or not to eat lunch, or if I should ride my bike to the library. I needed to decide if I should let a girl in my class know that I liked her. I was just entering that time of life when I noticed that girls were different from boys.

Girlfriend stuff is tough to decide on.

I know, this is so NOT an adult problem.

Learn from Childhood Events

But, hear me out. Is it possible to learn adult things from childhood experiences? I certainly hope so. I’d hate to have to make a bunch of dumb adult mistakes to learn something I could have learned at twelve years of age. I think people who do that are referred to as immature by other adults who have their act together.

When I was living on the farm with my aunt and uncle, I had lots of time to think. Working several acres of garden takes time… alone. This was way before transistor radios, Walkman players, and all the gadgetry that is ubiquitous today.

After milking was done and cleaned up, I went out into the corn field and worked all morning, with a break only at lunch time. It was so quiet I could almost hear the corn growing. I learned to use the time for thinking and remembering. I learned to not be afraid of silence.

During my childhood I also discovered trees. Climbing trees. If there was a tree near, I could usually be found somewhere near the top, waving slightly in the breeze, looking at the world from above.

Magic in Silence

The magic in both of these experiences, I came to understand, was the silence. I liked silence. I gathered energy and enthusiasm from it. Energy to go back to work, enthusiasm to do the work well.

Many childhood decisions were made for me by my parents: which school I would attend; whether or not the teacher was the boss of me during school hours; if I would attend church, and which one; what time I would go to bed; if home chores were my job; even what books I could check out of the library.

My childhood was mapped out for me by may parents. As I grew older, they might ask for my input on some decisions.

Choosing a girlfriend was strictly my business. So, I climbed a tree to think. I had to also decide how I would let the lucky girl know she had been chosen. High in the tree, with only the breeze and bird calls for music, I could gather my thoughts and decide.

As an adult, I understand that many will identify me as an Introvert from these confessions. That’s okay.

I still seek silence and alone-time when I am writing and when I have decisions to make. I recommend it to you as a good thing.

I also discovered that silence can be found in noise. Silence can be an internal state.

The constant noise of the lawn mower creates a solitude for thinking. Many lesson plans and sermons originated from time behind a mower. Dreams sprang from the time. Reflection on the past day or week, as individual students were analyzed so I could do a better job of meeting his or her needs in the classroom.

Need Silence to Really Hear

Elijah needed to be reminded of a spiritual truth or two, so God sent him to a cave. At the entrance to the cave he experienced a tornado, a firestorm, and an earthquake. The record says, God was not in any of these. There might be a lesson in this as our weather gets crazier all the time.

At last, Elijah heard a still, small voice in the silence of the cave. It was God. Elijah recognized the voice and understood the message and mission he was to complete.

Amid the cacophony of today’s hectic pace, a still, small voice probably will go unheard.

Jesus recognized the wearing away of energy and enthusiasm among his disciples, and gathered them close to direct them: Come apart and rest awhile. Be in the stillness. Hear the voice of God, see His handiwork in nature. Reflect on His presence throughout your life.

What to do with the Sound of Silence? Seek it out. Make silence happen around you. Embrace it. Make it your friend. Feed on it and gain energy for the work you have to do.

Oh, and about the girlfriend decision. I asked my sister to call the Chosen One, then took the phone from her and said, “Don’t tell anyone that I like you!” Immediately, I was embarrassed, and passed the phone back to my sister. From then on I could not even speak to her at school, so the friendship didn’t blossom into girlfriend status. Lesson learned. Silence is better than sticking your foot in your mouth.

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Abundance

I opened a jalapeño pepper this morning to use in my breakfast. With care I calculated the center of the conical masterpiece and knifed my way from the point to the stem. I had split the plenum down the middle. Each side of the pepper displayed the magical shield that protects the seeds. I slid the knife under the white umbilical cord and extracted the seeds without losing one.

In my younger days I played with jalapeño peppers with machismo. I wasn’t intimidated by the thought of pepper juice being on my fingers. Nothing could go wrong. Except a reflex wipe across my forehead and eyes in response to sweat beading there. Tears ran down my cheeks as I danced around the room exclaiming over the pain.

I spent about a half hour lying on my back in the tub while warm water flushed my eyes. With time, the pain subsided. But the memory stuck fast. Now I am respectful of the power of pepper juice.

Back to today. I placed the seed-laden plenum on a plate and looked at it. Why would one pepper need to have that many seeds? There were over 100 seeds on the half! I counted them.

Abundant Seeds

Then my mind went to other garden and nature objects. Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, melons, oak trees, flowers. All of these teach the lesson of Abundance.

My pepper plant has already produced a score of peppers, and the summer has hardly started. By the time this one plant stops producing fruit, it will have delivered 100 or more. That’s over 10,000 seeds. How many are needed to carry on the family name? One. But I will plant probably six in my plant nursery, in case some choose not to germinate.

The Bible quotes Jesus as saying, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”. John 10:10 {AMPC} And Nature attests to this desire that He has for us. One hundred seeds, when one would have been enough.

What would I do if I received $10,000 more than I needed for the month?
I would Dance!

Dance!

Around me right now are 10,000 more opportunities than I need to get started Dancing. All I need is one. But, it is Abun-Dance. I’ve got to get out on the floor and move. It’s even more fun when some partner gets close, and we dance in rhythm with each other and the music.

It’s not called Abun-try.
It’s not called Abun-wait.
It’s certainly not called Abun-wish.

I needed help so I could begin to see the abundance of opportunities, and acknowledge that I have to act on an opportunity to make it happen – to get into the dance. Otherwise, it is just pepper juice in my eyes and lots of remorse.

When I was a teenager, my parents denied me the experience of dancing. But, I developed what I called Back-Seat Dancing. I would move in rhythm to the music from the waist up.

I am determined to get into the dance, from my feet up. Life will not keep me from celebrating the abundance that is showered on me every day.

I would never have thought that a Gold Mine and a Jalapeño would somehow be connected. But, here it is:  When you’re looking at Nature, recognizing God in the garden is like striking a gold vein in a mine. I am enriched on both counts.

God reveals Himself through Nature. He created it, so it is logical that it mirrors Him.

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What abundance has come into your life?

eldon @ eldonroberts.com